Bats

Wind Power, Bats, and the Ecological Double Standard

MasterResource.org

April 5, 2013

Author Paul Driessen is senior policy advisor for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power – Black death. James Rust is a policy advisor for The Heartland Institute (www.Heartland.org), retired professor of nuclear engineering, and a noted critic of climate alarmism.

“It’s high time that people’s safety – and truly devastating impacts on important bird and bat species – stopped taking a back seat to political agendas, crony corporatism, and folklore environmentalism.”

Georgia residents recently learned that a rare bat has stalled state highway improvements. The May 2012 sighting of an endangered Indiana brown bat in a northern Georgia tree has triggered federal regulations requiring that state road projects not “harm, kill or harass” bats.

Even the possibility of disturbing bats or their habitats would violate the act, the feds say. Therefore, $460 million in Georgia road projects have been delayed for up to eighteen months, so that “appropriate studies” can be conducted. The studies will cost $80,000 to $120,000 per project, bringing the total for all 104 road project analyses to $8–12 million, with delays adding millions more.

Bat Benefits … and Overreach

Bats have a vital ecological function that translates into agricultural and health benefits for us. A single colony of 150 big brown bats can consume up to 1.3 million flying insect pests per year, Dr. Justin Boyles and other scientists point out, preventing crop damage and eradicating countless mosquitoes. If Indiana bats are expanding their range from Tennessee into Georgia, that could be good news.

“White nose syndrome” is impacting populations of hibernating bats in caves all over the Eastern USA. The infectious disease is probably fungal in origin, these scientists say, and the loss of North America’s bats to WNS could cost farmers $4-53 billion per year – and let mosquitoes proliferate.

At first blush, then, the delay-and-study decision by the U.S. and Georgia Departments of Transportation (DOT) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect these voracious furry flyers makes sense. (The FWS enforces the Endangered Species Act, Migratory Bird Treaty Act and similar laws.)

However, the Georgia bat study action is akin to obsessing about a cut finger, while ignoring cancer. The schizophrenic decision underscores how environmental concerns, DOT actions and federal threats to impose penalties or withhold highway funds too often seem to reflect ideologies, agendas and politics, rather than science or actual risks of harming a species

It’s true that Peach State highway projects could conceivably affect bat colonies or daytime rest periods for these nocturnal creatures, to some small degree. But the road work will reduce accidents and crash-related deaths – and delays will likely result in more injuries and fatalities.

The Real Bat Problem

Meanwhile, other human activities are decimating bat populations all over America. But environmental groups remain silent, and state and federal wildlife “guardians” do little to stop the carnage. How is that possible?

The exempted activities involve heavily subsidized wind turbines that generate expensive, intermittent electricity and require “backup” hydrocarbon-fueled power plants for some 80% of their rated or “nameplate” capacity.

A U.S. Geological Survey report investigated the causes and consequences of bat fatalities around the world. Other analyses have addressed the violent effects that wind turbines have on bats, which are vulnerable because turbines are especially busy at night, when bats are everywhere but electricity demand is at its lowest. Bats are struck by blades traveling 100-200 mph at their tips or felled by “barotrauma,” sudden air pressure changes that explode their lungs, as explained in a 2008 Scientific American article “On a wing and low air: The surprising way wind turbines kill bats.”

Supposedly “eco-friendly” wind turbines in the Mid-Atlantic Highlands kill tens of thousands of bats annually. The Fowler Ridge and Meadow Lake facilities in northwestern Indiana already have 475 gigantic turbines on 75,000 acres; an additional 150 wind turbines are planned; and all are in the middle of prime Indiana bat habitat.

Even worse, long after the slaughter began, the USFWS is evaluating whether to grant Fowler Ridge a 22-year “incidental take” permit, so that the turbines can continue decimating bats – and the operators can continue being exempted from laws and penalties that apply to everyone else.

Other Wind Mortality

Of course, bats aren’t the only victims. Numerous rare, vital and endangered bird species are also at risk from wind turbines – including whooping cranes, hawks, falcons, and bald and golden eagles.

To minimize public outrage over the eco-slaughter, Fish and Wildlife has changed its census methods for “whoopers” (to make it harder to calculate how many cranes have “gone missing” along their turbine-dotted Alberta-to-Texas migratory corridor); allows wind facility operators to use search methods that ensure that most dead and injured birds (and bats) will never be found; initiated a process to issue 30-year “incidental take” permits for killing bald and golden eagles; and refused to prosecute wind facility operators for annihilating birds and bats.

The proposed New Era Wind Farm in Minnesota will likely kill 8-14 bald eagles annually. It is yet another example of serious environmental impacts overlooked in the quest to “go green” and meet state “renewable” energy mandates – as though this wildlife destruction is “sustainable” or “acceptable.”

Projects like New Era or Shepherds Flat in Oregon also mean a person could be fined or jailed for possessing a feather from a bald eagle decapitated by a wind turbine – but the turbine operator would get off scot free.

A 2012 Spanish Ornithological Society study and 1993 studies in Germany and Sweden found that a typical wind turbine kills 333-1,000 birds and bats annually in Spain, up to 309 birds per year in Germany, and as many as 895 birds and bats in Sweden. World Council for Nature chairman Mark Duchamp estimates that turbines kill twice as many bats as birds.

That means the more than 40,000 turbines operating in the United States, often in or near important habitats, could easily be killing 13 million to 39 million birds and bats every year!

Double Standard
And yet, most environmentalist groups say nothing, and the Fish and Wildlife Service does nothing.

However, Georgia taxpayers must pay millions for bat studies – enriching researchers and reducing taxpayer wealth – to ensure that road projects do not disturb the flying mammals. Meanwhile, the state’s drivers and passengers must wait years for safety and other improvements to their highways.

Ironically, Indiana bats that are to be studied and protected in Georgia could get chopped in half en route by “Cuisinarts of the air” that Uncle Sam considers so holy the turbines must be safeguarded against endangered species laws, regardless of environmental costs.

As summer approaches, Americans should also consider what life will be like when windmills cause bat populations to crater. Freed of their natural predators, mosquitoes will thrive, and they have a much more unquenchable thirst for human blood than do bats of folklore and Dracula tales.

It’s high time that people’s safety – and truly devastating impacts on important bird and bat species – stopped taking a back seat to political agendas, crony corporatism, and folklore environmentalism.
– See more at: http://www.masterresource.org/2013/04/wind-power-bats-double-standard/#more-25050

The Price of Green Energy: Is Germany Killing the Environment to Save It?

sp
March 12, 2013
By SPIEGEL Staff

The German government is carrying out a rapid expansion of renewable energies like wind, solar and biogas, yet the process is taking a toll on nature conservation. The issue is causing a rift in the environmental movement, pitting “green energy” supporters against ecologists.

The Bagpipe, a woody knoll in northern Hesse, can only be recommended to hikers with reservations. This here is lumberjack country. Broad, clear-cut lanes crisscross the area. The tracks of heavy vehicles can be seen in the snow. And there is a vast clearing full of the stumps of recently felled trees.

ANZEIGE
Martin Kaiser, a forest expert with Greenpeace, gets up on a thick stump and points in a circle. “Mighty, old beech trees used to stand all over here,” he says. Now the branches of the felled giants lie in large piles on the ground. Here and there, lone bare-branch survivors project into the sky.

Kaiser says this is “a climate-policy disaster” and estimates that this clear-cutting alone will release more than 1,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Forests are important for lowering levels of greenhouse gases, as large quantities of carbon dioxide are trapped in wood — especially the wood of ancient beech trees like these. Less than two years ago, UNESCO added the “Ancient Beech Forests of Germany” to its list of World Natural Heritage Sites.

It wasn’t any private forest magnate who cleared these woods out. Rather, it was Hessen-Forst, a forestry company owned by the western German state of Hesse. For some years now, wood has enjoyed a reputation for being an excellent source of energy — one that is eco-friendly and presumably climate neutral. At the moment, more than half of the lumber felled in Germany makes into way into biomass power plants or wood-pellet heating systems. The result has been an increase in prices for wood and the related profit expectations. The prospect of making a quick buck, Kaiser says, “has led to a downright brutalization of the forestry business.”

The Costs of Going Green

One would assume that ecology and the Energiewende, Germany’s plans to phase out nuclear energy and increase its reliance on renewable sources, were natural allies. But in reality, the two goals have been coming into greater and greater conflict. “With the use of wood, especially,” Kaiser says, “the limits of sustainability have already been exceeded several times.” To understand what this really means, one needs to know Kaiser’s background: For several years, he has been the head of the climate division at Greenpeace Germany’s headquarters in Hamburg.

Things have changed in Germany since Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government launched its energy transition policy in June 2011, prompted by the Fukushima nuclear power plant catastrophe in Japan. The decision to hastily shut down all German nuclear power plants by 2022 has shifted the political fronts. Old coalitions have been shattered and replaced by new ones. In an ironic twist, members of the environmentalist Green Party have suddenly mutated into advocates of an unprecedented industrialization of large areas of land, while Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats have been advocating for more measures to protect nature.

Merkel’s energy policies have driven a deep wedge into the environmental movement. While it celebrates the success of renewable energies as one of its greatest victories, it is profoundly unsettled by the effects of the energy transition, which can be seen everywhere across the country.

Indeed, this is not just about cleared forests. Grasslands and fields are being transformed into oceans of energy-producing corn that stretch beyond the horizon. Farmers are using digestate, a by-product of biogas production, to fertilize their fields as soon as they thaw from the winter. And entire tracts of land are being put to industrial use — converted into enormous solar power plants, wind farms or highways of power lines, which will soon stretch from northern to southern Germany.

The public discourse about the energy transition plan is still dominated by its supporters, including many environmentalists who want to see the expansion of renewable energies at any price. They set the tone in government agencies, functioning as advisors to renewable energy firms and policymakers alike. But then there are those feeling increasingly uncomfortable with the way things are going. Out of fear of environmental destruction, they no longer want to remain silent.

Greens in Awkward Position

Although this conflict touches all political parties, none is more affected than the Greens. Since the party’s founding in 1980, it has championed a nuclear phaseout and fought for clean energy. But now that this phaseout is underway, the Greens are realizing a large part of their dream — the utopian idea of a society operating on “good” power — is vanishing into thin air. Green energy, they have found, comes at an enormous cost. And the environment will also pay a price if things keep going as they have been.

Within the Greens’ parliamentary group in the Bundestag, politicians focused on energy policy are facing off against those who champion environmental conservation, fighting over how much support the party should throw behind Merkel’s energy transition. Those who prioritize the environment face a stiff challenge, given that Jürgen Trittin — co-chairman of the parliamentary group who long served as environment minister — is clearly more concerned with energy issues.

In debates, members of the pro-environmental camp have occasionally even been hissed at for supposedly playing into the hands of the nuclear lobby. “We should overcome the temptation to sacrifice environmental protection for the sake of fighting climate change,” says Undine Kurth, a Green parliamentarian from the eastern city of Magdeburg. “Preserving a stable natural environment is just as important.”

“Of course there is friction between environment and climate protection advocates, even in my party,” says Robert Habeck, a leader of the Greens in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein who became its “Energiewende minister” in June 2012 — the first person in Germany to hold that title. “We Greens have suddenly also become an infrastructure party that pushes energy projects forward, while on the other side the classic CDU clientele is taking to the barricades. It’s just like it was 30 years ago, only with reversed roles.”

This role is an unfamiliar one for environmentalists. For a long time, they were the good guys, and the others were the bad guys. But now they’re suddenly on the defensive. They used to be the ones who stood before administrative courts to fight highway and railway projects to protect Northern Shoveler ducks, Great Bustards or rare frog species. But now they are forced to defend massive high-voltage power lines while being careful not to scare off their core environmentalist clientele.

Bärbel Höhn, a former environment minister of the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia, has a reputation for being a bridge-builder between the blocs. She concedes that there have been mistakes, like with using corn for energy. But these are just teething problems that must be overcome, she adds reassuringly.

Encroaching on Nature Reserves

The opposition in Berlin has so far contented itself with criticizing Merkel, believing that her climate policies have failed and that she has steered Germany’s most important infrastructure project into a wall. Granted, neither the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) nor the Greens are part of the ruling coalition at the federal level, but they do jointly govern a number of Germany’s 16 federal states. And, when forced to choose between nature and renewable energies, it is usually nature that take a back seat in those states.

It was in this way that, in 2009, Germany’s largest solar park to date arose right in the middle of the Lieberoser Heide, a bird sanctuary about a 100 kilometers (62 miles) southeast of Berlin. Since German reunification in 1990, more than 200 endangered species have settled in the former military training grounds. But that didn’t seem to matter. In spite of all the protests by environmentalists, huge areas of ancient pine trees were clear cut in order to make room for solar collectors bigger than soccer fields.

A similar thing happened in Baden-Württemberg, even though the southwestern state has been led for almost two years by Winfried Kretschmann, the first state governor in Germany belonging to the Green Party. In 2012, it was the Greens there who passed a wind-energy decree that aims to boost the number of wind turbines in the state from 400 to roughly 2,500 by 2020. And in the party’s reckoning, nature is standing in the way.

The decree includes an exemption that makes it easier to erect huge windmills in nature conservations areas, where they are otherwise forbidden. But now this exception threatens to become the rule: In many regions of the state, including Stuttgart, Esslingen and Göppingen, district administrators are reporting that they plan to permit wind farms to be erected in several nature reserves.

But apparently even that isn’t enough for Claus Schmiedel, the SPD leader in the state parliament. Two weeks ago, he wrote a letter to Kretschmann recommending that he put the bothersome conservationists back into line. Schmiedel claimed that investors in renewable energies were being “serially harassed by the low-level regional nature-conservation authorities” — and complained that the state government wasn’t doing enough to combat this.

Fears of Magnetic Fields

Just as controversial as the wind farms are the massive electricity masts of the power lines, which bring wind energy from the north to large urban areas in the south. This has led the Greens to favor cables laid underground over the huge overhead lines for some time now. Trittin, the party’s co-leader, believes that using buried cables offers an opportunity “to expand the grid with the backing of the people.”

Ironically, however, there is growing resistance to this supposedly eco- and citizen-friendly form of power transition on the western edge of Göttingen, a university town in central Germany that lies in Trittin’s electoral district.

Harald Wiedemann, of the local citizens’ initiative opposed to underground cables, has already sent to the printers a poster that reads: “Stop! You are now leaving the radiation-free sector.” Plans call for laying 12 cables as thick as an arm 1.5 meters (5 feet) below ground. Wiedemann warns that the planned high-voltage lines will create dangerous magnetic fields.

He and some other locals have marked out the planned course of the lines with barrier tape. It veers away from the highway north of the village, cuts through the fields, runs right next to an elementary school and through a drinking water protection area.

Wiedemann is also the head of the city organization of the Greens, who are generally known as Energiewende backers. “But why do things have to be done so slapdash?” he asks. The planning seems “fragmented,” he says, and those behind them have forgotten “nature conservation, health and agriculture.”

Indeed, underground cables are anything but gentle on the landscape. Twelve thick metal cables laid out in a path 20 meters wide are required to transmit 380,000 volts. No trees are allowed to grow above this strip lest the roots interfere with the cables. The cables warm the earth, and the magnetic fields created by the alternating current power cables also terrify many.

Nature Suffers

Many nature conservationists believe that Germany’s Energiewende is throwing the baby out with the bath water. For example, last week, Germany’s Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN) hosted a meeting of scientists and representatives from nature conservation organizations and energy associations in the eastern city of Leipzig.

Kathrin Ammermann, who heads the organization’s unit responsible for renewable energy, is troubled by recent developments. “Increased production of biogas, in particular, has intensified corn monoculture,” she says, noting that this has harmed numerous plant and animal species. Wind turbines also kill birds and bats. “The expansion of renewable energies must not only be carried out in a way that makes the most economic sense, but also in a way that is as friendly as possible to nature and the environment,” she says.

As Germany’s environment minister, it is Peter Altmaier’s job to balance the interests of both sides. But the CDU politician spent his first months in office singing the praises of renewable energies only to then turn around and warn with increasingly grim forecasts of an explosion in electricity prices that can no longer be controlled. Indeed, nature conservation doesn’t exactly top his list of priorities.

Last summer, when he presented his personal 10-point renewable-energy plan, it occurred to him, just in knick of time, that he was also responsible for environmental protection. He then pulled out a few meager words on nature and water protection, which have yet to be followed up with deeds. Nor has any progress been made on a noise-control plan relating to the building of offshore wind farms that had been announced with much fanfare.

At least Norbert Röttgen, Altmaier’s predecessor and fellow CDU member, conceded during his time in office that nature protection might ultimately risk getting put on the back burner as a result of the nuclear phaseout. He even set up a Nature Conservation and Energy division within the ministry to address the issue. Nevertheless, it is the champions of renewable energies who are increasingly dominating the ministry’s policy line, with the traditional advocates of nature and environmental protection just standing back and watching in astonishment. “In decision-making processes, we either get listened to too late or not at all,” says one ministry official. “Nature protection just isn’t an issue the minister has taken up.”

Big Wind tax credit exterminates endangered species

December 22, 2012

http://www.washingtontimes.com

 

The American Wind Energy Association wants its production tax credit (PTC) for wind electricity extended yet again. Congress should say no — and terminate the PTC now.

Wind energy is expensive and unreliable. It does nothing to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. It is land- and raw-materials-intensive, parasitic and redundant. Whenever the wind is low or inconsistent, every megawatt of wind power must be supported by electricity generated by fossil-fuel plants. Even more damning, wind turbines disrupt wildlife habitats and butcher birds and bats that are vital to ecological diversity and agriculture.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and American Bird Conservancy say wind turbines kill 440,000 bald and golden eagles, hawks, falcons, owls, cranes, egrets, geese and other birds every year in the United States, along with countless insect-eating bats.

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With Ohio wind projects under consideration, Indiana bat stops wind turbine development in West Virginia

December 10, 2009

http://ohioaglaw.wordpress.com

 

The development of wind farms is a controversial land use issue in Ohio, as in other states.  Arguments abound on both sides and revolve around private property rights, community land use planning, green energy, preservation of open landscapes and wildlife impacts.  It is this last factor–impacts on wildlife–that convinced a federal court to halt a wind development project in the Appalachian mountains of West Virginia, much to the dismay of developers of the $300 million project.

The Beech Ridge wind energy project involves construction of 122 wind turbines along  the ridgeline of the Appalachian mountains in Greenbrier County.   About forty of the turbines are currently in the construction phase, but the federal court has issued an injunction stopping construction of any additional turbines and limiting existing turbine use to the bat’s winter hibernation period.  The reason:  project developers failed to take seriously the issue of harm to the Indiana bat.   The Indiana Bat is on the list of “endangered” species, and interference with the animal or its habitat is prohibited by the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).   The wind project developers did hire an environmental consultant to examine the situation, but the consultant repeatedly disregarded information and advice from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) that would have more accurately identified the Indiana bat population.   The court critized the consultant’s efforts, stating that “[s]earching for bats near proposed wind turbine locations for one year instead of three, looking in one season rather than three, and using only one method to detect bats was wholly inadequate to a fair assessment.”  Later surveys revealed the existence of two caves within ten miles of the project that are home to hundreds of bats, including Indiana bats, and evidence suggested that nearly 7,000 bats would die each year because of the project.

 

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Judge Halts West Virginia Wind Farm to Save Endangered Bats

December 9, 2009

http://www.ens-newswire.com

 

WASHINGTON, DC (ENS) – In the first federal lawsuit challenging an industrial wind energy project on environmental grounds, a federal court ruled Tuesday that a wind farm under construction in Greenbrier County, West Virginia would kill and injure endangered Indiana bats in violation of the Endangered Species Act.

In a case brought by two environmental groups and an individual caver, Judge Roger Titus of U.S. District Court in Maryland decided that the wind farm developer could finish construction of the 40 wind turbines that are partially completed, but granted an injunction against operation of the turbines except during the winter months when bats are in hibernation.

 

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Nonprofits: localities should have say on turbines

JANUARY 25, 2013

CLAYTON, Ontario — Municipalities should be able to decide for themselves, or at least have more say in, the outcome of wind project sitings, according to the leaders of area nonprofits.

The head of Save the River, meanwhile, said the group still advocates a moratorium on industrial wind development, which it proposed in 2010, until environmental impacts are assessed.

Thousand Islands Land Trust’s executive director, Jake R. Tibbles, said that while the land trust “supports the concept of renewable energy and strongly advocates energy efficiency and conservation activities,” it does not support the siting of large commercial wind turbines.

 

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Wind farms vs wildlife

January 5, 2013

spectator.co.uk

 

Wind turbines only last for ‘half as long as previously thought’, according to a new study. But even in their short lifespans, those turbines can do a lot of damage. Wind farms are devastating populations of rare birds and bats across the world, driving some to the point of extinction. Most environmentalists just don’t want to know. Because they’re so desperate to believe in renewable energy, they’re in a state of denial. But the evidence suggests that, this century at least, renewables pose a far greater threat to wildlife than climate change.

I’m a lecturer in biological and human sciences at Oxford university. I trained as a zoologist, I’ve worked as an environmental consultant — conducting impact assessments on projects like the Folkestone-to-London rail link — and I now teach ecology and conservation. Though I started out neutral on renewable energy, I’ve since seen the havoc wreaked on wildlife by wind power, hydro power, biofuels and tidal barrages. The environmentalists who support such projects do so for ideological reasons. What few of them have in their heads, though, is the consolation of science.

 

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Bio-diversity not important in wind debate

January 27, 2013

http://ccsage.wordpress.com

 

[Opinion article authored by Terry Sprague, the naturalist emeritus of Prince Edward County, published in the Picton Gazette on January 27, 2013.]

The unbelievable foibles of both the Ministries of Natural Resources and the Environment have been all too evident this past month in the province. As if the Ostrander Point decision by the very ministries that are charged with protecting our natural environment wasn’t bad enough, they somehow managed to top that decision by authorizing the removal of a bald eagle’s nest down in the Fisherville area where an American company is planning a wind turbine project there. The eagles made the tragic mistake of building their nest in the path of a planned access road to one of the turbines. Clearly, the nest had to go, along with the tree, under the pretext of protecting the eagles from harm. Isn’t this so-called pro-action synonymous with saying that there is, in fact, a problem with birds and turbines, by the same agency that claims through its Ostrander Point decision that there are no issues with migratory birds?

 

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The shocking environmental cost of renewable energy

January 5, 2013 Shredded BatWind turbines only last for ‘half as long as previously thought’, according to a new study. But even in their short lifespans, those turbines can do a lot of damage. Wind farms are devastating populations of rare birds and bats across the world, driving some to the point of extinction. Most environmentalists just don’t want to know. Because they’re so desperate to believe in renewable energy, they’re in a state of denial. But the evidence suggests that, in this century at least, renewables pose a far greater threat to wildlife than climate change.

I’m a lecturer in biological and human sciences at Oxford university. I trained as a zoologist, I’ve worked as an environmental consultant — conducting impact assessments on projects like the Folkestone-to-London rail link — and I now teach ecology and conservation. Though I started out neutral on renewable energy, I’ve since seen the havoc wreaked on wildlife by wind power, hydro power, bio-fuels and tidal barrages. The environmentalists who support such projects do so for ideological reasons. What few of them have in their heads, though, is the consolation of science.

My speciality is species extinction. When I was a child, my father used to tell me about all the animals he’d seen growing up in Kent — the grass snakes, the lime hawk moths — and what shocked me when we went looking for them was how few there were left. Species extinction is a serious issue: around the world we’re losing up to 40 a day. Yet environmentalists are urging us to adopt technologies that are hastening this process. Among the most destructive of these is wind power.

Every year in Spain alone — according to research by the conservation group SEO/Birdlife — between 6 and 18 million birds and bats are killed by wind farms. They kill roughly twice as many bats as birds. This breaks down as approximately 110–330 birds per turbine per year and 200–670 bats per year. And these figures may be conservative if you compare them to statistics published in December 2002 by the California Energy Commission: ‘In a summary of avian impacts at wind turbines by Benner et al (1993) bird deaths per turbine per year were as high as 309 in Germany and 895 in Sweden.’

Because wind farms tend to be built on uplands, where there are good thermals, they kill a disproportionate number of raptors. In Australia, the Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagle is threatened with global extinction by wind farms. In north America, wind farms are killing tens of thousands of raptors including golden eagles and America’s national bird, the bald eagle. In Spain, the Egyptian vulture is threatened, as too is the Griffon vulture — 400 of which were killed in one year at Navarra alone. Norwegian wind farms kill over ten white-tailed eagles per year and the population of Smøla has been severely impacted by turbines built against the opposition of ornithologists.

Nor are many other avian species safe. In North America, for example, proposed wind farms on the Great Lakes would kill large numbers of migratory songbirds. In the Atlantic, seabirds such as the Manx Shearwater are threatened. Offshore wind farms are just as bad as onshore ones, posing a growing threat to seabirds and migratory birds, and reducing habitat availability for marine birds (such as common scoter and eider ducks).

I’ve heard it suggested that birds will soon adapt to avoid turbine blades. But your ability to learn something when you’ve been whacked on the head by an object travelling at 200 mph is limited. And besides, this comes from a complete misconception of how long it takes species to evolve. Birds have been flying, unimpeded, through the skies for millions of years. They’re hardly going to alter their habits in a few months. You hear similar nonsense from environmentalists about so-called habitat ‘mitigation’. There has been talk, for example, during proposals to build a Severn barrage, that all the waders displaced by the destruction of the mud flats can have their inter-tidal habitat replaced elsewhere. It may be what developers and governments want to hear, but recreating such habitats would take centuries not years — even if space were available. The birds wouldn’t move on somewhere else. They’d just starve to death.

Loss of habitat is the single biggest cause of species extinction. Wind farms not only reduce habitat size but create ‘population sinks’ — zones which attract animals and then kill them. My colleague Mark Duchamp suggests birds are lured in because they see the turbines as perching sites and also because wind towers (because of the grass variations underneath) seem to attract more prey. The turbines also attract bats, whose wholesale destruction poses an ever more serious conservation concern.

Bats are what is known as K-selected species: they reproduce very slowly, live a long time and are easy to wipe out. Having evolved with few predators — flying at night helps — bats did very well with this strategy until the modern world. This is why they are so heavily protected by so many conventions and regulations: the biggest threats to their survival are made by us.

And the worst threat of all right now is wind turbines. A recent study in Germany by the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research showed that bats killed by German turbines may have come from places 1,000 or more miles away. This would suggest that German turbines — which an earlier study claims kill more than 200,000 bats a year — may be depressing populations across the entire northeastern portion of Europe. Some studies in the US have put the death toll as high as 70 bats per installed megawatt per year: with 40,000 MW of turbines currently installed in the US and Canada. This would give an annual death toll of up to three -million.

Why is the public not more aware of this carnage? First, because the wind industry (with the shameful complicity of some ornithological organisations) has gone to great trouble to cover it up — to the extent of burying the corpses of victims. Second, because the ongoing obsession with climate change means that many environmentalists are turning a blind eye to the ecological costs of renewable energy. What they clearly don’t appreciate — for they know next to nothing about biology — is that most of the species they claim are threatened by ‘climate change’ have already survived 10 to 20 ice ages, and sea-level rises far more dramatic than any we have experienced in recent millennia or expect in the next few centuries. Climate change won’t drive those species to extinction; well-meaning environmentalists might.

By Clive Hambler
http://www.spectator.co.uk The second edition of Clive Hambler’s Conservation (Cambridge University Press) is out now.

Driessen: Big wind tax credit exterminates endangered species

bald eagle turbinesBy Paul Driessen

December 22, 2012 Washington Times

Thousands of birds killed by wind turbines

Wind energy is expensive and unreliable. It does nothing to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. It is land- and raw-materials-intensive, parasitic and redundant. Whenever the wind is low or inconsistent, every megawatt of wind power must be supported by electricity generated by fossil-fuel plants. Even more damning, wind turbines disrupt wildlife habitats and butcher birds and bats that are vital to ecological diversity and agriculture.